Report: Afghan Suicide Bomber Was Released From CIA Jail When US Forces Abandoned Bagram Air Base

Jason Minto/U.S. Air Force via AP

When a suicide bomber blew himself up at a US military control point on the fringes of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, killing 11 Marines, one sailor, and one soldier, and he created the third highest single-day casualty total for the entire 20-year war (see Yesterday Was One of the Bloodiest Days in the Afghan War Because of the Choices Joe Biden Made and He Owns the Outcome). He also set in motion a sequence of events that eventually resulted in the United States killing ten civilians, seven of them children, in a drone attack that was to ostensibly destroy another suicide bomb threat and added ignominy to the already disgraceful US exit from Afghanistan.

Now an Indian outlet, Firstpost, is reporting that the bomber was in US custody at Bagram Air Base up until our unmanly and precipitous flight on July 5 when we fled from that critical installation without bothering to tell our Afghan allies that we were leaving:

The U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said.

Afghanistan’s army showed off the sprawling air base Monday, providing a rare first glimpse of what had been the epicenter of America’s war to unseat the Taliban and hunt down the al-Qaida perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks on America.

The U.S. announced Friday it had completely vacated its biggest airfield in the country in advance of a final withdrawal the Pentagon says will be completed by the end of August.

“We (heard) some rumor that the Americans had left Bagram … and finally by seven o’clock in the morning, we understood that it was confirmed that they had already left Bagram,” Gen. Mir Asadullah Kohistani, Bagram’s new commander said.

The Taliban subsequently seized Bagram on August 15, and thousands of prisoners returned to action. Here is Pentagon goof John Kirby admitting that the US military didn’t know how many prisoners were freed, but they numbered in the “thousands.”

This is the story:

The Islamic State suicide bomber who killed at least 169 Afghan civilians and 13 United States soldiers outside Kabul airport last month was incarcerated in Afghanistan’s notorious Bagram prison for the past four years, thanks to Indian efforts, Firstpost has learnt through credible intelligence sources.

Senior Indian intelligence sources familiar with the case have told Firstpost that he was handed over to the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency by the Research and Analysis Wing in September 2017. However, the jihadist walked free on 15 August along with thousands of other dangerous terrorists held in the high-security prison, taking advantage of the chaos that ensued in the aftermath of the United State’s hurried exit and the Taliban’s swift takeover of the entire country.

Identified as Abdul Rehman, the jihadist was a former student of an engineering college in India and hailed from Afghanistan’s Logar province. He was the son of an Afghan merchant who frequently visited India for business.

His arrest had led to the termination of a plot by the Islamic State of Khurasan Province (IS-K) — the Islamic State’s regional wing in Afghanistan — to stage suicide bombings in New Delhi and other cities across the region, probably on the behest of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI).

“America’s disorganised retreat from Afghanistan has led to hundreds of highly-competent and highly-committed terrorists being set free to rejoin the Islamic State, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups,” one officer who worked on the Abdul Rehman case said.

“Literally a decade’s work on counter-terrorism has been undone by the US’ failure to secure key prisoners in Bagram,” he said adding that the consequences of this failure will be “very far-reaching.”

There is nothing in this story that is implausible. It is well documented that both the Taliban and ancillary terror groups operating in Afghanistan were supplied and armed by Pakistan’s ISI. Somehow we never had the guts at a national level to call out Pakistan over its role as a sponsor of transnational terrorism, even when Osama bin Laden was found hiding in the same city as the Pakistani national military academy. For all intents and purposes, our real enemy in Afghanistan since 2003 has been Pakistan. We know “thousands” of enemy combatants were returned to the field after Bagram fell to the Taliban. Firstpost’s claim that Abdul Rehman was gifted to the CIA by the Indian R&AW implies that he was in the CIA-run clandestine detention facility at Bagram. Rehman was already committed to being a suicide bomber when the Indians rounded him up and that conviction probably hardened while in prison. In fact, the US flight from Afghanistan could very well have prompted Rehman’s attack out of the fear that the war was ending and he had missed his chance for martyrdom.

On the other hand, India, particularly Indian intelligence operatives, has a vested interest in attaching more stench to Pakistan than already exists. If they can stick the deaths of 13 Americans on ISI, there is no reason for them not to do so. So, on the whole, my gut feeling is that this story is credible, and it is entirely possible that we had the HKIA suicide bomber in custody and let him go with devastating results.

Like so many other aspects of our shameful conduct during the withdrawal from Afghanistan, this cries out for investigation. If this story is true, someone at the CIA needs to explain how this came to be.